Current Stage Shows

 Clarence Darrow's Last Trial: It's a trial all right. Shirley Lauro's new play takes a long time to bring to life the minor last chapter of a major life in law. There is certainly nothing wrong with Rafael de Acha's production or with his cast, which boasts entertaining performances by John Felix, John Bixler, Ricky J. Martinez, Susan Dempsey, and others. But the piece is at best a mildly entertaining courtroom drama, overlong middlebrow fare peppered with fine acting but nowhere nearly as satisfying as your basic Law & Order rerun. Or even JAG. -- Octavio Roca Through February 20. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables; 305-443-5909.

Edge: This one-woman show about the tormented life of poet Sylvia Plath features a startling, riveting performance by Angelica Torn that blazes as fiercely as Plath's poetry. Paul Alexander's play depicts Plath's failed romances and suicide attempts, and excoriates her husband Ted Hughes as a controlling monster who profited mightily from her royalties after her death. Despite these fireworks and a welcome dose of wry humor, this tale of rage and obsession feels rather flat dramatically. Edge works best as a performance showcase for the splendid Torn. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 27. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-442-4000.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill: Lanie Robertson's oft-revived play is set in 1959 at a Philadelphia bar where fading jazz star Billie Holiday sings her signature songs and jokes with the audience, but her boozing and drugs send her tottering toward an onstage meltdown. The production is graced by a fine jazz trio and the rich vocals of Nadeen Holloway in the title role, but Holloway's energy and warmth seem at odds with Lady Day's tortured personality. Director John Pryor hasn't developed the character's nuances. -- Ronald Mangravite Through February 27. M Ensemble Company, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-895-8955, www.themensemble.com.

The Retreat from Moscow: Soap operas tend to sound more serious with a British accent, and William Nicholson's play is soaked in classy suds. It is a small, middle-class affair about the breakup of a 33-year marriage. The wonderful Lisa Morgan plays a strong woman, frustrated by difficulties that eventually will lead to the end of everything she thought she could take for granted; David Kwiat is a husband who is not so much passive-aggressive as just plain passive, and perhaps on his way to happiness at last; Andrio Chavarro, in his GableStage debut, is a son with his own complaints about being unlucky in love. There is not much more, but Joseph Adler's fast direction almost makes one overlook the banalities beneath the surface of the glossy script. -- Octavio Roca Through February 27. GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119, www.gablestage.org.

 
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